By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Have you reached a point in life where you feel God is holding you back? Maybe you just don’t think He’s helping you in any way to move forward.
If you grew up in a religious home that stressed rules rather than a relationship with God, it’s possible you associate your faith with a dysfunctional childhood or legalistic rules and restrictions. Perhaps now you feel it’s time to spring ahead unhindered without God getting in your way.
Or, maybe you believe God is punishing you or withholding something from you because of what you’ve done or failed to do with your life. Perhaps He’s not answering your prayers or granting your repeated requests and you feel that is holding you back.
God is not a religion or a set of rules. Nor is He waiting to hammer you or continuing to hold you back. He’s the One whose Word says His precious thoughts about you outnumber the sand (Psalm 139:17-18).
And if you blame God that you aren’t getting further in life because He wants you miserable ever after, you won’t find any Scriptural support for that opinion or mindset. Rather, He is the God who is able to do “immeasurably more than all we can ask or think, according to His power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Lest you believe God wants to hinder your life and make you miserable, here are six lies about how God is holding you back and the biblical truth that shatters them:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/lolostock
Lie #1: God Doesn’t Want You to Have Fun or Experience Any Joy
God created adventure and the idea of fun. He is the author of spontaneity, excitement, laughter, and joy. So if you think He’s the One holding you back from a better, more exciting life, you just don’t know Him very well.
Notice this. In Genesis 2:16-17, we hear God’s very first command to humankind: “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
We often assume that not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the very first command—but that isn’t true! God tells Adam to eat freely from the garden. To enjoy all of the good, tasty, beautiful, and nurturing fruits that God provided.
God has been freely giving us things to enjoy from the very start!
In John 10:10, Jesus said He came to bring us life more abundantly and Satan is the thief who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Don’t get the two mixed up.
If Satan can lure you into what you think will be fun (any attempt at fulfillment apart from God) and make you believe God is a kill-joy, he’ll get you right where he wants you--feeling devastated and desperate for something more.
You will find His way of fun, fulfillment, and peace is a lot better and more fulfilling than yours.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jordan Bauer
Lie #2: Prayer Doesn’t Matter, So Move Forward without God
I received an email from a man who was tired of praying.
He was tired of asking God for things and getting what he said was nothing in return. He apparently wanted to be the exception on this earth when it came to experiencing pain, difficulty and loss, and blamed God for his circumstances.
Throughout the man’s email was a heavy use of the pronouns “I” and “me.” He was clearly disappointed that God had not met His expectations. But this man clearly missed the point.
God doesn’t exist for us. We exist for Him.
We don’t have a relationship with God in order to get something from Him. (That would be our relationship with Santa Claus or Amazon Prime.)
God doesn’t just give us whatever we ask, so we can be happy for the moment, regardless of whether or not it’s good for us. Matthew 7:11 says He’s a far better parent than any human and He gives good gifts to His children.
When we push our selfishness and sense of entitlement aside, we can begin to see that God does not exist to push our personal agendas. If you find yourself thinking that God is ignoring you, isn’t being fair with you, or is holding you back, I urge you to reacquaint yourself with His love that endures forever (Psalm 136) and His intimate knowledge and attention to your every detail (Psalm 139).
When you understand who He is and what He has done, your wants will be secondary to His and what He deserves from you.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Christian Erfurt
Lie #3: God Insists That You “Grow” through Life, Not Enjoy It
Let’s get something straight. Life has its share of difficulties, with or without God. When we love God, and are called according to His purpose, we can trust Him to bring good out of difficult situations and make us more like His Son through them.
Romans 8:28 tells us that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It is by God’s grace that he can cause good to come out of every single situation, but that doesn’t mean that God put you through that situation on purpose.
Even though Jesus was called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), that doesn’t mean He frowns upon our laughter and enjoyment. And it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way we can grow!
Think about how plants grow. Yes—storms can make their stalks and roots stronger. But plants also need the warm sun, the nurturing soil, the refreshing water.
We’re the same way—yes, the trials and triblations of life will make us stronger. But we also need to let God nurture us through his love, his beauty, the relationships he’s given us, and the joy of getting to be ourselves!
If you find yourself struggling with the lie that the only way to grow is to suffer, ask yourself why. What do you believe about God’s character that makes you think this way? What do you think you “deserve”? Think of times of great growth. Was it just because you were suffering, or were there times when it was when you were taking really good care of yourself and having fun?
Don’t let this lie hold you back from a life you love.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Henri Pham
Lie #4: God Doesn’t Want You to Succeed
God knows better than we do how personal success can cause us to praise ourselves, rather than Him. Thus, Scripture instructs us to humble ourselves in God’s presence and He will exalt (James 4:10).
That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to succeed. It means He wants to direct us toward His idea of success.
Psalm 1 says “Blessed (or successful) is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (verses 1-2).
And then verse 3 says that “whatever they do prospers.” God loves to bless those who trust Him and look to Him for their strength (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Don’t think God doesn’t want you to be successful! He just wants you to know what true success is, and not the world’s empty version.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” And Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight yourselves in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Instead of believing that God doesn’t want you to succeed, a more biblical thought is “God wants to bless me as I get my priorities right.”
God’s idea of success is often different than yours. Try striving after God’s definition of success and you will find He equips you with all you need to be the person of God He has purposed (See 10 Things God Wants More than Your Success.)
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash Saulo Mohana
Lie #5: God Doesn’t Want You to Have What Makes You Happy
When our hearts are set on something, and God doesn’t appear to deliver, we often conclude that He doesn’t want us to have what will make us happy.
Yet our temporary happiness is not God’s goal. He wants us to impact others eternally.
As I wrote in my book, When God Sees Your Tears, some of God’s best gifts to us are the things He withholds. Psalm 84:11 tells us “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (NASB).
So, if you’re walking uprightly and asking God for something good, and He appears to be withholding, it’s not because He is holding you back.
It could mean His withholding is because He has something better to give you that you haven’t yet thought to ask for. It could also mean that what you are asking for isn’t truly good for you, or it isn’t time.
We can be so sure of what seems good for us, but remember that God is actually all-knowing, not like us puny humans!
Although it’s extremely easy to conclude lies about God’s character when we don’t get what we want, the best thing to do is to lean into him.
He is our Father, our refuge, our biggest cheerleader—the being who loves us more than anything in the universe.
So, instead of believing God doesn’t want you to be happy, fight back with the truth of who God is—not what you are seeing in front of you.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Christian Fregnan
Lie #6: God Wants You Busy with His work, Not Yours
Somewhere we got the idea that God wants us to work for Him, to be busy in ministry, and burn the midnight oil in order to be a “good Christian.”
And at times that busy work feels like it’s holding us back. We live in a world in which we must work hard for just about everything.
But in God’s economy, it doesn’t work that way. God would rather have you spend time with Him than do a bunch of things for Him.
God wants our service that flows out of our faith, obedience, and love for Him, not our obligation to feel approved or accepted by Him, or to have a false assurance of a works-based salvation.
If you are busy working for God and finding yourself running on empty, running behind, and running into debt, try abiding (resting/dwelling) in Him.
Work that provides for your family, shows love to your neighbor, and is from an honest and diligent heart is work for God.
Don’t categorize between the false dichotomy of the spiritual and the secular.
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Whatever your work, whether it be for the church or not, is considered a work for God when it’s done with a heart to please Him.
God loves you and wants you to have the BEST out of life! Don’t let these lies hold you back any longer.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/grinvalds